A health authority in Scotland has introduced only essential visits to all its hospitals and inpatient services.
NHS Lanarkshire said it was enforcing the restriction due to pressure on staff amid a surge in Covid cases and staff absenteeism.
Earlier this week, the Health Board announced that all GP practices will move to a “managed suspension of services”, meaning doctors will only focus on the most urgent and time-sensitive care, a move Scottish Labour’s MSP Jackie Baillie said , described as “unprecedented”.
Necessary visits only allow visits to patients for whom not seeing a family member would “cause particular distress or suffering,” according to the health department.
The restriction already applies to Wishaw University Hospital, but will apply from Friday to the region’s remaining hospitals: Hairmyres University Hospital and Monklands University Hospital, their community hospitals and all inpatient mental health/learning disability units.
NHS Lanarkshire nurse director Susan Friel said the decision was made to protect patients and staff and staff would use their professional judgment to consider when a visit would be allowed.
“We understand that patients are having a challenging time in the hospital and want to have their family and friends around for support,” she said.
“Unfortunately, our priority is to keep our patients and staff as safe as possible and as such we have made the difficult decision to limit visitation at this time.”
She said the restriction will be reviewed daily and once the health department decides it’s safe it will increase visiting hours by prioritizing access for those closest to the patient.
“We recognize that essential visits, which only allow visits to patients where not seeing a family member would cause particular distress or suffering, are not ideal, but are necessary for now.
“We hope everyone understands that this decision was made in the best interests of patients, other visitors and our staff.”